AS a means of overcoming a difficult time owing to coal prices remaining low and reduced production, Gujarat NRE Coking Coal has restructured the workforce at its Southern Coalfields operations in New South Wales. The restructure was carried out in a bid to achieve a 20% reduction across its workforce without effecting mining operations.

To achieve this aim and to keep forced redundancies to an absolute minimum the company introduced a voluntary redundancy scheme. As a result Gujarat received a number of applications and after examining each one, 47 were accepted and these volunteers ended their employment in mid-January. Some applications were not accepted in consideration of the skills and experience of each applicant and nature of the position they hold.

Gujarat NRE’s chairman and CEO Jasbir Singh says it was not an easy decision but a necessary one to ensure continuity and viability of the company and its remaining workforce. “The company has been through a difficult time with coal princes remaining low for an extended period and reduced production resulting in severe cash flow issues. The recent investment of more than Aus$110 million from new majority holder Jindal Steel and Power has allowed the company to revive its cash flow issues.

“A lot of effort has been made to not only restore and improve current operations but also for the continuity of mining operations to maximize employment. The market conditions are yet to improve and it is absolutely critical for the company to keep costs down to be competitive.”

The company has been experiencing smoother production at its NRE Wongawilli Colliery as it is mining Longwall N2 and has approvals in place to continue mining up to 2015-16. It is also obtaining further approvals to extend mining for up to 15 years.

At NRE No 1 Colliery a modified application for the Underground Expansion Project Pt3A has been submitted to the State Department of Planning & Infrastructure for determination. The modification is similar to the original proposal which was to increase annual production to 3 million tonnes including an upgrade of surface infrastructure and extraction of coal from 8 longwalls in the Wonga East area only.

To expedite the approval process seven longwalls in Wonga West area have been removed from the application and will be resubmitted at a later date. Pending approval the mine life in Wonga East area will be extended for an additional five years. The subsequent Wonga West application will extend life by more than 18 years.

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